expressed on this page are solely those of the Webmaster,
who in effect, is the Editor of this web site. The
opinions do not necessarily reflect those of the NBTFHF,
the Executive & Directors nor it's members.
Its been asked
"What is the purpose of the Editorial page?". Too often,
trappers & fur harvesters stay silent on issues that may,
will and have affected our activities on the whole.
Hopefully, viewing one person's opinion will spark some
positive debate by others and entice trappers to become a
little more vocal on issues concerning trapping in New
Brunswick. If you have an opinion you would like to
express and have it published on this page,
email it to the
Webmaster. There are a few guidelines, no profanity,
keep it factual and no flaming.
A Season for Bears
When I read the
newspaper yesterday, the subject of one of the main stories
was about the increased number of black bear sightings in
urban areas. When I sat down to watch the news on television
last night, one of the lead stories was also about the
increased number of bears in the province. Residents are
getting a bit edgy as many of the sightings are in urban
areas in some of the bigger cities in the province. Black
bears have been seen on decks, porches, patios and in
dumpsters of local businesses. In a couple of cases in the
Saint John area, one bear has become increasingly aggressive
with each encounter.
of Natural Resources has been busy this year dealing with
complaints and setting live traps for the bears in numerous
locations in hopes of capturing the bears and relocating
them. In the case of the aggressive bear in the Saint John
area, it will most likely have to be put down if captured in
the interest of safety. Conservation Officers are having a
tough time getting the bears into the traps however. The
many compost bins, garbage dumpsters and household trash
left on decks, patios and other areas around homes give the
bears easy access to food and they don't need to go into the
traps to find food.
So why so many
encounters with Black Bears over the past few years?
According to the news story I watched on TV, DNR's
explanation is some good breeding years and less hunting
pressure has allowed the bear population to increase
rapidly. The high Canadian Dollar and the downturn in the
North American economy means far fewer non-residents are
coming to the province to hunt Black Bears resulting in much
lower harvest rates than in the past. If you talk with any
hunting outfitter in the province, they will verify, the
hunters are just not coming. Some outfitters who have in the
past, had dozens and dozens of non-resident bear hunters
each year are down to a handful each year now. Since 2004,
the number of non-resident hunting licenses sold has dropped
steadily. In 2008, almost 1000 fewer non-resident licenses
were used than in 2007. So, what can be done to help curb
the bear problem?
Here's an idea!
Give trappers in New Brunswick a bear harvesting season! On
a number of occasions, the New Brunswick Trappers & Fur
Harvesters Federation has passed resolutions and submitted
them to Fish & Wildlife asking for a bear harvest season
with foot snares. Each time, the idea has been turned down
for several different reasons. One of the main ones that
keeps popping up is that hunting outfitters in the province
are worried a bear harvesting season for trappers will
impact there business. That argument just doesn't fly
mentioned, there were 1000 fewer non-resident black bear
licences used in 2008. Coincidently, there are on average,
1000 fur harvesting licenses sold in the province each year.
Even if every trapper that bought a license decided to
target a bear, there still would be no increased pressure.
Chances are slim that even half would set for bear, the
number that would be successful would be even less again. As
the NBTFHF suggested previously, the season could be held in
late autumn after the bear hunting season closes, although,
there is no real reason why it should have to be.
The concerns of
Hunting Outfitters are understandable but unfounded. The
Department of Natural Resources are experiencing a black
bear problem that will most likely get even worse over the
next several years. Although not a total solution to the
problem, a fur harvesting season for black bears could
certainly help out. In some situations where bear problem
have become more serious, DNR & Trappers could certainly
work together to remove the problem animals. It's a win win
situation for everybody. The general public get peace of
mind knowing something is being done to solve the problem,
NB Trappers get a bear season and DNR spends less time,
money and resources on the problem. Here's hoping the powers
that be will consider this option!
Rabies Control Scrapped
Brunswick Government, in all it's wisdom, decided to scrap
the Wildlife Rabies Control Program that has been ongoing in
the province since 2001. The first case of Raccoon Rabies
was discovered in New Brunswick in 2000. By the fall of
2001, 61 cases had been confirmed. The Department of Health
launched into action and the New Brunswick Wildlife Rabies
Control project began. By Live Trapping, Vaccinating and
Release (TVR) combined with depopulation, 2002 saw only 3
cases of raccoon rabies. Since 2002, there has not been a
confirmed case of raccoon rabies in the province.
In 2008, the
program switched from the TVR method to baits dropped from
an airplane. Now, in 2009, the NB Government cancelled the
project altogether, citing budget cutbacks as the reason.
Meanwhile, the State of Maine continues to be plagued with
cases of raccoon rabies. As of July 14, 2009, 35 cases have
been confirmed in the state, the closest only a few
kilometres from the New Brunswick border near Kirkland, NB.
With only one year of aerial baiting in the area, there is a
chance that the virus could enter the province again in this
One has to
wonder, why cancel the program now? The program has been
undeniably successful for the past 8 years. New Brunswick is
the first jurisdiction in North America that has
successfully halted the raccoon rabies virus. If Maine had
been as aggressive in combating the virus and no cases had
been found in the last few years, it would be
understandable. However, knowing the disease is not under
control in the state, our government still made the baffling
decision to cut the program.
In terms of
project funding, the program was really not that expensive
considering the benefits. In fact, total cost of the project
annually was less than some executive salaries at NBPower.
Considering it costs about $1800.00 per person to administer
post exposure shots to those who have potentially come in
contact with the virus, it doesn't take long to realize the
savings. Now, if the virus does appear in the province
again, we are basically starting from scratch again.
Trapping season dates
and species legal to trap can vary from WMZ to WMZ.
Please check the Wildlife Management Zone you will be
trapping in to make sure of the season opening and
closing dates and which species can be legally
harvested in that zone.